Despite what the name implies, sports medicine is not limited to the sports field. The branch of orthopedics consists of the treatment of injuries derived from physical activity. These injuries can occur due to overuse, overexertion, traumatic collision, or overextension of the ligaments and cartilage in the joints. Sports injuries can occur anywhere on the body; however, most sports injuries occur to the major joints, including the shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle.
Minimally invasive rotator cuff surgery
A common shoulder injury associated with sports is a rotator cuff tear. Made up of a group of four different muscles and tendons, the rotator cuff coordinates the movement of the arm at the shoulder. A tear in these muscles due to traumatic impact, repetitive motion, or a forceful pull can lead to severe pain and loss of mobility in the shoulder.
Depending on the severity of the injury, a rotator cuff tear can be repaired using surgical or non-surgical methods. If pain is not relieved by nonsurgical efforts and surgery is required, rotator cuff tears can be repaired using arthroscopic techniques. A minimally invasive procedure, arthroscopic surgery involves two small incisions for the insertion of a fiberoptic camera and specialized operating tools. Arthroscopic surgery generally results in successful rotator cuff repair and a shortened, less painful recovery time.
Anterior cruciate ligament repair surgery for knee pain
A commonly performed sports medicine procedure is repair of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) located within the knee. The ACL provides rotational stability to the knee, and ligament tears occur due to excessive rotation, sudden changes in direction, improper landing, or traumatic collision. Symptoms of an ACL tear include a “popping” noise and the inability to put weight on the knee joint, followed by pain and swelling.
Non-surgical treatment options are available after an ACL tear; however, a torn ACL does not heal on its own and surgery is necessary to return to an active lifestyle. Advances in knee surgery techniques now allow a torn ACL to be repaired using an arthroscopic procedure. Arthroscopic surgery techniques allow for a faster recovery time, although an athlete will need at least six months before returning to sports.
Torn meniscus surgery for knee pain
The meniscus consists of two pieces of cartilage located between the femur and the tibia that act as shock absorbers and “buffers” between the two bones. Sports-related meniscus tears are the result of excessive stress on the knee joint from a traumatic collision, bending over, or over-rotation, and often accompany other knee injuries, such as an ACL tear.
It is still possible to walk after a meniscus tear and athletes can continue to play through the injury. However, the knee will gradually become stiffer and swollen over a period of a few days. Non-surgical treatment approaches include the RICE protocol of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If the severity of the injury requires surgery, arthroscopic techniques using a fiberoptic camera and miniature instruments will allow for minimally invasive meniscus repair.
Shin splint repair
Pimples are a common sports-related injury, as the condition is due to exercise-related overuse. Shins, or medial tibial stress syndrome, develop when excessive and repetitive physical activity causes muscle fatigue that leads to additional force being applied to the tissue that joins the muscles to the tibia.
Leg cramps are treated with rest and abstinence from physical activity. Leg cramps rarely require surgery; however, persistent pain may indicate the development of multiple microfractures in the tibia. Microfractures are serious and may require a doctor’s evaluation.
Achilles tendon repair surgery
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and connects the muscles in the back of the leg with the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is essential for mobility as it is used for walking, running, and jumping. Tears can occur when the Achilles tendon is overstretched and cannot bear the great forces exerted on it during physical activity. Pain and swelling accompany an Achilles tendon tear, as well as an inability to bend the foot down.
Surgery is probably the only option to repair a completely torn Achilles tendon for patients who want to return to sports. Surgically repaired Achilles tendons are more likely to return to near normal performance and less likely to be injured again.